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Ground bees in a rooftop garden

Apparently, ground bees don’t care how far off the ground the ground really is. These rooftop bees were photographed by Erin McGann. She writes, “We have a rooftop garden in Vancouver, Canada with two honey bee hives up there too. This spring we spotted a collection of little holes in one of our beds. My neighbours and I have been trying to catch the inhabitants when they’re out, but they are so FAST.”

Believe me, they are fast. The bees she has are Halictus rubicundus, a common sweat bee that lives all across North America from coast to coast. They are remarkable pollinators that are found in just about every crop and in most garden plants.

While I have frequently photographed these bees, I have never seen the holes where they live. I have scoured my property looking for them, but have never found one. But Erin has dozens.

In the photos below, note that the male has yellow legs and the lower part of the face is yellow as well. The female has golden hairs covering her legs which she uses to collect pollen.

Like most bees in the Halictus and Lasioglossum genera, the tip of the abdomen has a pseudopygidial groove, an area that looks like a part in the hairs. This groove is clearly visible in the photo of the female.

Great shots, Erin. Thank you.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

H-rubicundus-3-E-McGann
Little bee holes in a rooftop garden. © Erin McGann.
H-rubicundus-E-McGann
A male Halictus rubicundus. Note the yellow legs and yellow on the lower portion of face. The males often can be seen hanging around the nest openings. If you look closely, you can see the head of a bee down in the nest entrance. © Erin McGann.
H-rubicundus-2-E-McGann
A female Halictus rubicundus entering her nest. Note the fluffy golden hairs on her legs. You can also clearly see the pseudopygidial groove at the end of her abdomen. © Erin McGann.

Comments

WesternWilson
Reply

I live in the same area, Greater Vancouver, BC. The sandy seaside fields here host Alkali bees in abundance and yesterday I noticed a leafcutter bee taking a piece of leaf into a burrow in one of my outdoor potted plants!

Rusty
Reply

I think that flower pots filled with good soil are one of the best things for attracting ground-dwellers. Some folks find it irritating, but I think it is so cool. And alkali bees? I’m jealous!

Rusty
Reply

Erin,

What a busy girl she is! Good capture.

WillFa
Reply

Okay, I got a chuckle when I read this phrase: “pseudopygidial groove”. I tried to figure out what it could mean by its etymology… “pseudo” is easy to figure out, “pygidial” took me a second, until I remembered one of my favorite Shakespearean words: “Callipygian”, which means “having well formed or shapely buttocks”…

So, a “Pseudopygidial groove” is just an obscure way of saying “fake butt crack”. 😀 Thanks for the laugh, Rusty.

Rusty
Reply

William,

You’re welcome, but I didn’t make up the word!

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